Skip to main content


Over the years, the Diocese of Dunedin has changed the Episcopal residence a few times, and at every trade and exchange, the house has got a bit smaller. We will be carrying on this proud tradition by moving into our own house sometime in the next month or two. The official episcopal palace in Mosgiel is a nice enough place but we'd prefer the novelty of paying our own mortgage and of planting a garden that isn't going to be handed over to a non gardening successor and a committee of blokes with chainsaws in a decade's time.

We bought our little house in Glenfinnan Place, Anderson's Bay about 3 years ago with the intention of retiring there some day. Who knows? We may still. But in the meantime, it will serve us very nicely and the fact that it is really just a three bedroom town house is part of its appeal. Anglican bishops have long since ceased to be princes of the Church and it's time to remove any vestige of pretence that they are still. Time, perhaps, to remove some of the detritus of church, and allow the Gospel beneath to emerge into the light. Anyway, it's a modest house, but a comfortable one, with unpredictable architecture, lots of leaves around it and a view. What more could anyone want?

And moving into a house which is perhaps a third of the size of our present one does force us to think through our attitude to possessions. For the last few days we have been going from room to room making piles of stuff to get rid of. Today I made what will probably be the first of many trips to the landfill. The trailer was piled with stuff. Stuff that someone had once desired and chosen and paid for. Stuff that had been shown off and displayed and delighted in. Glass and metal and plastic and wood, all shaped by someone paid to shape it and carried to my house by an ingenious system of transport and supply. Stuff that no-one ever really needed and no-one was ever going to miss. Soon, some will go to an op shop, but today it was the real crud: I took a kleensack full of broken cameras and lenses, several banana boxes of pottery and a plastic bag full of the little bits and pieces that come with cell phones. There was also thirty years of old diaries, bad poetry from my 20s and the first chapters of half a dozen unwritten novels. It felt good to be rid of it; so good that tonight I went through my bookshelves and removed a couple of hundred volumes... well... I know, percentage wise it's not a very impressive cull but, hey! it's a start!

Identifying what is really needed and ditching the rest. It's a lesson I learned with some force on the Camino, and one that I think will serve me well in the coming years.


Kathryn said…
Getting rid of "stuff" - that is one of the most difficult things to do. As you say, much of the beginning is easy, its when you get to all the things that hold memories that it gets more difficult. I don't envy you this task. But if you find an easy way to do it, please tell. I would love to be able to 'let go' of all the unnecessary possessions I have accumulated over the years. Maybe my house is too big? Moving to a smaller place would really force the issue.
Good luck with your culling, Kelvin. :-) Your own house sounds lovely.
Kelvin Wright said…
Many are culled but few are chosen
Simon said…
That was very much my Camino experience, too. I loved Joyce Rupp's reflections on this, from her book about the Camino 'Walk in a Relaxed Manner'. She talks about carrying too much in life's 'backpack', too many material things and too much inner clutter which burdens and restricts her from being "a truly free human being".
Every blessing for your move.
Anonymous said…
what are you doing with the goat books? Any chance of a catalogue? Garage sale? Public viewing once they have been sorted from the sheep?
Jo F
Kelvin Wright said…
Alas, Jo, those books are already gnashing their little bookly teeth in the place where the worm ceaseth not and the fire goeth not out and if you had seen them you would agree they jolly well deserved it. Sociology textbooks from the '70s. Bad childrens picture books. Pentecostal pot boilers from the hey day of the Charismatic renewal. Novels which no one read when they came out in 1947. Little tomes with soft focus photos and heart warming advice. Believe me, they will ALL be serving the world better in their next incarnations as egg cartons than they would as space fillers on your shelves.

Popular posts from this blog

Centering Prayer Retreat

    A 3 day taught retreat in the practice of Centering Prayer.   Saturday October 2 2021 - Monday October 4 2021 Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent contemplative prayer. This retreat is suitable for beginners in silent prayer, or for more experienced practitioners wishing to refresh their practice.  The retreat will be held in the En Hakkore retreat centre in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo. There will be daily sessions of silent prayer, instruction and discussion. The venue is spacious and set in an expansive landscape. there will be some time for personal reflection.  The cost is $175 per person which includes 2 nights accommodation and all meals.   Since the beginning, following the example of Jesus, there has been a tradition of silent prayer in the Christian Church. Over the centuries this tradition faded from the popular view and became confined to monasteries. It was kept alive by a largely ignored, but never fading lineage of Christian contemplatives.  

Turn Sideways Into The Light

David Whyte speaks in his audio series What To Remember When Waking of the myth of the Tuatha De Danann. They were a mythical race from Ireland's past who were tall, magical, mystical people devoted to beauty and artistry. When another more brutal people, the Milesians invaded Ireland the Tuatha De Danann fought them off in two battles, but were faced with a third, decisive battle against overwhelming odds. So, lined up in battle formation and facing almost certain defeat, the Tuatha De Danann turned sideways into the light and disappeared. Whyte's retelling is, to put it mildly, a gloss, but I am quite taken with the phrase and with the phenomenon it describes. Turning sideways into the light is the realisation that there are some encounters that are damaging to all involved in them: no one wins a war. Faced with such an exchange, to turn sideways into the light is to seek another, more whole form of relationship. It is to reject the ground rules of the conversation as they

En Hakkore

In the hills up behind Ranfurly there used to be a town, Hamilton, which at one stage was home to 5,000 people. All that remains of it now is a graveyard, fenced off and baking in the lonely brown hills. Near it, in the 1930s a large Sanitorium was built for the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments. It was a substantial complex of buildings with wards, a nurses hostel, impressive houses for the manager and superintendent and all the utility buildings needed for such a large operation. The treatment offered consisted of isolation, views and weather. Patients were exposed to the air, the tons of it which whistled past, often at great speed, the warmth of the sun and the cold. They were housed in small cubicles opening onto huge glassed verandas where they cooked in the summer and froze in the winter and often, what with the wholesome food and the exercise, got better. When advances in antibiotics rendered the Sanitorium obsolete it was turned into a Borstal and the

Camino, by David Whyte

This poem captures it perfectly Camino. The way forward, the way between things, the way already walked before you, the path disappearing and re-appearing even as the ground gave way beneath you, the grief apparent only in the moment of forgetting, then the river, the mountain, the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting you over the rain filled pass when your legs had given up, and after, it would be dusk and the half-lit villages in evening light; other people's homes glimpsed through lighted windows and inside, other people's lives; your own home you had left crowding your memory as you looked to see a child playing or a mother moving from one side of a room to another, your eyes wet with the keen cold wind of Navarre. But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember you were given that name every day along the way, remember you were greeted as such, and you neede


This photo was taken by my daughter Catherine, when I was about 50. I think she did a pretty good job.  The number 70 has a kind of Biblical gravitas. It’s the number of elders appointed by Moses to lead the recalcitrant Israelites, and the number of people who went down to join Joseph, in Egypt. Jesus sent 70 disciples out to minister in his name, and the first Jewish Sanhedrin had 70 blokes in it. And, of course, there is Psalm 90:10:  “ The days of our life are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore, yet is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away ”. All this has some personal import because I turn 70 today, and can no longer fool myself that I am middle aged. I’m old. And before you feed me one of the lines of balderdash that pass for wisdom in our culture - “you’re only as old as you feel”; “70 is the new 50”; “age is just a number” or some other such nonsense, let me tell you that I am happy to be old. Deliriously